Cha-Cha: Finding the shoe that fitsBy Philip Dominguez Mercurio
It’s my understanding that since a good chunk of the Philippine workforce resides outside of the Philippines, it’s pertinent that those OFWs play an integral part in the coming charter change. OFWs represent a sizable portion of the overall GDP of the country. Why shouldn’t they?
But here’s a pickle. How about native Filipino Americans, meaning those born in the States. Shouldn’t we also be involved?
It’s a long shot of course. Folks like me have citizenship only in the States. Our affiliation to that country a journey away is either though our interaction with our own families like during the packaging of balikbayan boxes or whatever interactions we have within the community here in America. We may be ethnically Filipino but because we are generations away from our supposed ‘homeland,’ answering yes to such a question simply becomes implausible.
But can one really say that American Filipinos here shouldn’t even have a little say in the whole process?
For one, we’re routinely exposed to things back home. From our programming to our newspapers, American Filipinos are deluged with issues from the Philippines. Go to your local Filipino supermarket and see. We may be here in America but generally speaking, much of our headlines are still reserved for news back home. This goes in line with what Professor Daniel Gonzales suggested where it’s pretty much impossible to discuss the diaspora of Filipinos here in America without discussing their country of origin as well. They pretty much go hand in hand.
Then consider the fact that many Filipinos here in America are so involved in the process of promoting our cultural roots for the betterment of our people back home. One of my former classmates at San Francisco State University, Llayda Punsal, couldn’t help but point out the irony that back in the Philippines, Filipinos try their hardest to become Americans while Filipinos here in America try desperately to do the opposite - find their Filipino heritage to become Filipino.
San Francisco State alone personifies this concept. The university simmers with countless Filipino cultural groups, all inspiring to lift Filipino spirit here and aboard. The school alone is the caretaker to one of the largest collections of Philippine artifacts in the world.
On a personal note, I myself am involved with promoting Southern Philippine culture with Master Kalanduyan from Mindanao. He came to America to promote our culture by (ironically enough) teaching students here in America. His music heritage in Mindanao may be on the decline but thanks to globalization, when those in Mindanao watch Filipinos in America learn these traditions it becomes inspirational to the newer generation back in Mindanao. So, though we may be oceans apart, Filipinos in America continue to play a crucial part in the preservation and the dispersal of our culture and heritage back home.
So -- considering all this -- shouldn’t we be given the chance to participate in this so-called charter change?
I truly believe so. But speaking realistically, I’m sure it’s unlikely that officials back home would even consider such a request, especially from folks like me who never even set foot on Philippine soil.
Since my views are likely to be overlooked, I’ll get straight to the point. Although I’m happy that Filipinos are trying to figure out a way to make things right, I’m disappointed that those in the Philippines decided such a drastic change is necessary to try to achieve that end. I just don’t understand how newcomers to democracy such as Indonesia could go through an electoral process without a coup attempt and where much of their country is proud to vote (80% of their voters voted - this coming from a country bigger and supposedly more corrupt than ours - and believe it or not - they were able to figure out their presidential results in one day!). I really want to know why they were able to pull it off while we see the need for a complete overhaul instead.
With all this cha-cha going on, I’m beginning to imagine the Philippines as a shopper in a shoe store constantly changing shoes trying to see which one fits.
Will the shopper ever find her true fit?
I really do hope so.
I just hope she finally settles on one so the country can finally move on. - PDM
See this article,"Cha-Cha: Finding the shoe that fits" in Philippine News. Click here.